On a recent trip to London, my partner and I visited the Bank of England Museum. The signage wasn’t very clear, or perhaps I should have gone to Specsavers the opticians, and we actually ended up in the Bank of England itself at the first attempt. The security man, in pink frock coat and top hat, told us where to go and we found the museum entrance in Bartholomew Lane running off Threadneedle Street down one side of the Bank building.
The museum collections were interesting and varied, covering a range of objects related to the bank’s history since its founding in 1694. Coins and banknotes, as you would expect, plus books and documents, furniture, silver, paintings and statues. The part that fascinated me though was the 400 troy ounces 999.9 fine gold bullion bar that was held captive in a plexi-glass case but which allowed you to insert your hand to grasp and lift the bar a couple of inches. At approx. 21.5 kg or 27.5 lbs it is surprisingly heavy. The value of the bar flashes up on a screen in front of you: over £400.000/ $500,000 at today’s prices. Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to remove it from its case without anyone noticing!